New report: Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites
The majority of teen social media users find online social networks to be “mostly kind” spaces, yet 88% have witnessed mean or cruel behavior there. Parents and peers serve as the most important influences and sources of advice on online safety issues
Social media use has become so pervasive in the lives of American teens that having a presence on a social network site is almost synonymous with being online. Fully 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites. Many log on daily to their social network pages and these have become spaces where much of the social activity of teen life is echoed and amplified—in both good and bad ways.
“Social networking sites have created new spaces for teens to interact and they witness a mixture of altruism and cruelty on those sites,” said Amanda Lenhart, lead author the report. “For most teens, these are exciting and rewarding spaces. But the majority have also seen a darker side. And for a subset of teens, the world of social media isn’t a pretty place because it presents a climate of drama and mean behavior.”
The report, which is based on seven focus groups with teens and a nationally representative survey of 799 youth ages 12-17 and their parents, was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in partnership with the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) and with the support of Cable in the Classroom. The families were contacted on landlines and cell phones, and interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The findings will be presented at a conference organized by FOSI this morning.